Toxicology Degree: What to expect?

Toxicology is the scientific field that looks into what amount (and what type) of chemical is bad for people and the environment. Those working in this field figure out things like how much of a drug should be taken for an illness, if a warehouse that manufactures cleaning products is a safe workplace, and what levels of pesticide affect the local environment.


Before you can start working as a Toxicologist, you need to get more than a few years of schooling. Start on your path with a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited university. Though you can major in toxicology, you can also get your degree in biology, chemistry, or physics. Since most people continue on to get a more advanced degree, what you major in isn’t as important as preparing for graduate school by getting the proper prerequisites.

No matter what major you choose, though, expect to spend quite a bit of time in science classes and labs. Since Toxicologists spend their days testing chemicals, you’ll need classes like organic chemistry, molecular toxicology, and mammalian physiology.

Next Step

Once you complete an undergraduate degree in toxicology, you can get a job as a Research Technician or Laboratory Assistant.

However, many Toxicologists choose to continue their education, getting a master’s or doctoral degree. Advanced degrees open you up to a whole range of job opportunities. You can find positions in private labs, pharmaceutical companies, and government safety agencies.

There are different areas of toxicology that you can focus on, including neurotoxicology, veterinary toxicology, and environmental toxicology. Choosing a specialty can help you determine the type of school and degree you need to get. Spend some time interning or working as an assistant in different types of labs to get a feel for the type of work you want to do.

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